DEP outlines $500 mil in water infrastructure loans

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STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JAN. 6, 2015….Water and wastewater projects in New Bedford, Marion, and Saugus are among 56 construction and planning initiatives that will be eligible for over $500 million in loans, state officials said Tuesday.

The loans carry a 2 percent interest rate and come through a fund administered by the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which announced the loans.

The loans will go towards 40 new projects and 16 ongoing water resource projects across the state and implemented by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), cities and towns, and regional water supply and wastewater treatment districts.

Thirty-four of the projects are clean water initiatives and total over $400 million, while 22 drinking water projects total over $106 million, according to the DEP.

The projects includes a New Bedford effort that is eligible for $40 million in 2015 for its $181.3 million combined sewer overflow abatement project; $17.3 million for Marion wastewater and drainage system improvements; $28 million for a $55.7 million sewer extension project in Nantucket; $12 million for a sewer separation project in Chicopee; $26.2 million for a $670 million MWRA combined sewer overflow project; and a $1.7 million for a sewer overflow reduction subsystem in Saugus.

One of the projects considered a top priority for DEP is an “anaerobic digester” plan proposed by the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District, which serves Lawrence, Methuen, Andover, and North Andover, and Salem in New Hampshire. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “anaerobic digestion” features a lagoon or tank in which bacteria breaks down manure in an absence of oxygen.

Half of the funding for the $24.9 million project will be allocated in 2015 and the rest will be taken care of in 2016, according to DEP.

Eleven projects involve renewable energy or green infrastructure at treatment plants, or the on-site installation of technologies like solar cells and wind turbines. According to the DEP, communities statewide spend about $150 million per year on electricity to treat 662 billion gallons of wastewater and drinking water, with roughly 30 percent of municipal energy use associated with water treatment.

Copyright 2015 State House News Service

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